Despite the magnitude of the disastrous flooding in Pakistan and the impact on its people, many in the international community remain unaware, and the attention garnered early on has waned. Through individual and organised institutional efforts, many Ismailis, together with others in Pakistan and around the world, have sought to raise awareness and funds to support flood relief efforts.
Millions of people throughout Pakistan have been devastated by heavy downpours and massive flooding that has been described as one of the worst disasters in the country’s history. But in the face of calamity, communities, institutions, government and civil society are coming together to help one another and rebuild lives.
Sixteen-month-old Jimla Kasenga and 61-year-old Mukadi Kabengele both have a reason to smile. Each of them underwent facial reconstructive surgery at Operation Smile’s recent medical mission to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The week-long mission was broadly supported by members of the local Ismaili community.
The Jamat in Dubai includes a disproportionate number of bachelors and young families, who, with all the pressures of work and modern life, find it difficult to prepare traditional home cooked meals. Meanwhile, many older women in the Jamat possess exceptional cooking skills and an enterprising spirit. The opportunity to come together was obvious, and led to the creation of a Golden Alliance.
In April, 13 students from Madagascar travelled to Kenya for a week-long visit. It was an opportunity for them to experience a culture outside their own, meet Ismaili students from another country, and to immerse themselves in an environment where they could improve their spoken and written English.
Earlier this year, Focus Humanitarian Assistance in North America conducted disaster management and leadership training in Houston and Toronto, for their Regional Disaster Management Teams. As a key component of the Disaster Management Programme, the training prepared community stakeholders to effectively respond to natural and man-made disasters.
Through civic engagement, humankind has refined agricultural practices, reformed education, rebuilt communities after natural disasters, and strengthened civil society. In countries around the world, Ismaili Muslims have made their own mark on history through community involvement, voluntary service, youth education and political engagement.
This year, the Girl Guide movement turns 98. Over the years, the organisation’s impact on the physical, mental and spiritual development of girls and young women has been phenomenal. Many Ismaili Muslim women who are part of the movement have become inspiring role models and leaders in their communities and the world.
In December, ten Ismaili Muslim Boy Scouts in Texas earned the prestigious Eagle Scout Award for performing outstanding community service that demonstrated initiative, commitment to help those in need, and extraordinary leadership skills. This prestigious rank is achieved by only five per cent of all Boy Scouts in the United States.
After years of anticipation, the Jamat across Canada came together to celebrate the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and their Park in Toronto. They eagerly shared their thoughts and feelings about how the new developments will impact their identity as Ismaili Muslims in Canada.
In January, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shattered the Republic of Haiti. Horrified by the disaster, countries, civil society organisations and individual donors responded with desperately needed help. Among them were many Ismailis who used their resources and skills to find creative ways to provide timely assistance to Haitians.
As a Muslim community, giving of our time and helping others is integral to our way of life. From a young age, Ismailis are surrounded by examples of volunteers in action. In the UK, the Youth, Cultural and Social Network has launched an initiative that provides opportunities for the Jamat to give back to the society in which they live.